The Hebrides and the political process

In the wake of the first Sunday ferry sailing to Stornoway (19/07/09) , Murdo Murray comments on this historic event, the situation surrounding, and speaks about other mainstream issues in both the political domain and the public debate.

murdomurray small1Listen to an interview with Murdo Murray

as he speaks on Hebridean issues and policy matters.

Murdo Murray stood as the Highlands and Islands candidate for the Scottish Christian Party during the Scottish 2007 elections. In an interview with Christians Together on the Monday following the first Sunday sailing he discusses the event, the lead up to it and its likely impact on life in the Hebrides.

The former Director of Technical Services for Western Isles Council goes on to discuss other issues of public interest including the first gay wedding in Lewis and its possible implications for Christian B&B operators.

Murray also speaks about the political process whilst giving his views on the European Union and the need to develop sustainable and independent energy resources for the islands.

Discussion relating to the political process in the Hebrides has been until now (20/07/09) been discussed on the thread attaching to the article on Sunday sailings, and can be viewed/read there.


The article on Sunday sailings gives a broad outline of the culture and way of life in the Western Isles.
However the discussion will now move to this article and will cover other issues relating to the political process.

Christians Together, 20/07/2009

Editor 20/07/2009 23:18
I hope to put some further questions to Murdo regarding his personal view on the important issues facing the population in the Western Isles, and also to ask him if he has any thoughts on how the (Christian/Hebridean) political process might move forward.
But meanwhile, the interview (link in article above) gives some idea of where his thinking lies.
Editor 22/07/2009 22:21
It seems that outspoken journalist John Macleod is disappointed (and it sounds as if that is putting it mildly) with the Lord's Day Observance Society and the latter's response to the recent Sunday sailing.

He is is also upset about the failure by mainstream politicians to speak up on the issue (an observation made by Murdo Murray in his interview).

Macleod is now inviting anyone who is interested in entering the political fray to contact him.

An on-line report (Hebrides news 22/7/09) reads -

Bid to establish rival LDOS body and field political candidate

Traditionalists in the Western Isles are hunting for a political candidate in the aftermath of the Sabbath-breaking ferry row.

There is also a bid to establish a new campaign group to rival the Lord's Day Observance Society (LDOS).

Many islanders are angry that Cal Mac has imposed regular seven-day sailings against the age-old custom of Sunday observance.

Hundreds of spectators watched the MV Isle of Lewis steam out of Stornoway harbour on her historic first Sabbath-busting voyage at the weekend.

Around 500 people and 120 vehicles travelled on the MV Isle of Lewis as she across the return trip between Lewis and Ullapool.

A group of 20 protestors from the Free Church Continuing sang psalms and prayed as they pleaded, in vain, with people to honour the Lord’s Day.

In the wake of the Sunday ferry a half-decent Sabbatharian candidate could throw the whole Western Isles election into turmoil by snatching votes from the SNP’s Angus Macneil who is fighting to save his seat from Labour’s Donald John Macsween.

However Macsween may also be hit as he would need to reduce the SNP majority and supported Sunday ferries for the past two decades. The islands’ poll is normally a two-horse race but a potential maverick Sabbatharian candidate could split the vote and spook the main players.

The bid to field a traditional island values candidate at the next election has been mounted by an active campaigner against seven-day sailings.

Well-known journalist John Macleod denounced the isles’ SNP over its alleged role in the Sunday ferry debate. He helped the party to mastermind their victory to unseat Labour from the Western Isles at the last Scottish elections.

He previously accused the islands’ MP Angus Macneil and MSP Alasdair of “active connivance – behind the scenes – with those determined to dismantle our local Lord's Day.”

Mr Macleod said: “After last weekend's sad events, and now that the local Lord's Day Observance Society (LDOS) is a discredited laughing-stock, the formation of a new campaigning group - of broader focus and sturdier leadership - is now under active consideration.”

He added: “Anyone interested in the defence of our day of rest, our island way of life, our local democracy and support of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and its entire right to legislate on local affairs without the despotic interference of the Scottish Government, should write me at Drovers Rest, Maryhill, Lewis, or email me at -

He pointed out: “Hate-mail. negativity and 'flamers' will be ignored.”

Mr Macleod said: “If sufficient support is evident, we hope to consider a referendum on the Sabbath ferry issue, assess legal options to test the validity or relevance of recent 'equality' law on matters of local Sabbath observance, and field a suitable candidate at the next Westminster general election.

“All in all, to defend our way of life here in a way that is robust, intelligent, cheerful and brave.”

He stressed: “We would look besides beyond the Sabbath and 'push-button' Christian issues to advocacy of, for instance, the rights of villages to set up a small-scale community energy project, the menace of an increasingly unaccountable environmentalist lobby, and the desperate need in South Uist for a direct ferry link between Mallaig and Lochboisdale.

“In general, the defence of these islands against all abuse of power, secrecy in high places and an increasingly corrupt political establishment, and from a moderate left-of-centre perspective.”

Mr Macleod said: “Any island resident would be welcome to join and no church connection is deemed necessary.

“We would also welcome application from anyone who is interested in standing for Parliament on our behalf and who would be prepared, at short notice if necessary, to devote three or four weeks to a full-time campaign.

“Some experience of public life, of dealing with the media and command of fluent, spoken Gaelic would be decided advantages.”

Rev Iain D Campbell, chair of the Lewis LDOS, said he was “very disappointed” at Mr Macleod criticism of the LDOS and added “but he is entitled to his opinion.”

He rejected the accusation that the LDOS failed to put up a strong fight against the Sunday ferry: “We made our representations as best we could to Cal Mac and to the media. I am not sure what his grounds of criticism are.”

Neither of the two SNP island politicians were available for comment.
George Orr 23/07/2009 17:22
So God is left of centre
Rosemary Cameron 23/07/2009 20:20
God is not necessarily left of centre but it seems the majority of the voters in the Western Isles are, since the two main parties there (Labour and SNP) are both left of centre. A left of centre christian candidate would therefore have a better chance of stealing votes from them than a right wing candidate.
Alec (Guest) 23/07/2009 21:47
Quote from the article:

"There is also a bid to establish a new campaign group to rival the Lord's Day Observance Society (LDOS)"

What? LDOS (Continuing)......?

Only in Scottish presbyterianism could there ever be a suggestion of such a thing.

There are times when it actually gets embarassing. No wonder the secularists look on, mock and laugh
Donald Boyd 04/08/2009 13:40
Useful interview, Colin. Thanks for the thoughts Murdo.
Editor 29/03/2010 13:54
LATEST NEWS: In response to Mr. Murray offering to stand as an independent, the SCP has announced that it will stand aside in the Hebrides in the forthcoming General Election.

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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Archive > Around the Region > Western Isles > The Hebrides and the political process